A member of the NSW Police force had his family tested for lead poisoning after a report was made public that indicated that the accommodation provided to him may have been decorated with paint made with the heavy metal.
Senior Constable Alex Davies – who was based in Barellan at the time – told reporters that he had his family tested after he found his baby daughter eating flakes of paint that had fallen from the ceiling throughout the house.
He said that the results came back positive for the entire family – and even the pet cat registered several points above officially safe levels.
According to some experts, even mild lead toxicity in young people can lead to a number of detrimental effects, including pronounced learning difficulties and reduced IQ.
It has been alleged that an audit of 1,300 properties owned by the NSW Police Force revealed that 210 residences may have been contaminated with lead or asbestos or – in some cases – both.
Many of these dwellings were located in rural or regional areas and were constructed around the 1920s – a time when the use of heavy metals and asbestos in the building industry was still fairly common.
Several families may have been exposed to hazardous substances after it was found that their homes contained measurable concentrations of lead.
Davies has alleged that he sought to have the property – which was wholly owned by the NSW Police Force – repainted to safely seal away the poisonous paint but that there was no action by the department.
He says he filed a report, but his concerns went unanswered and his paperwork was downgraded in urgency.
As a result Davies and his wife say they were subject to intense emotional stress, feeling they were unable to do anything to reduce the risk posed to their family by the potentially toxic paint.
Speaking to the Daily Advertiser, Davies related: “My wife and I were gutted, we were in tears for a couple of nights there and I actually had counselling done to find out if that was normal.”
The family has since been moved by the NSW Police force to alternate accommodations.
There remains the question of whether Davies will consider the services of a personal injury lawyer, as he and his family may have suffered injuries that were both foreseeable and preventable.
In NSW, a no win no fee law firm can also help families who have been exposed to hazardous substances by providing them with access initial consultations that allow them to explore their legal options.